The term condemnation is commonly used when a governmental entity files a civil action to take private property. In a basic condemnation action, the government, or a public utility, institutes the action as the plaintiff and the property owner is named as a defendant.
The government is required to make a deposit of what they determine is fair market value before they can take possession of the private property. The private property owner can withdraw the deposit without prejudice to their right to litigate the issue of fair market value.
What is Inverse Condemnation?
A different situation is when a private property owner has their property taken or damaged by a governmental entity with eminent domain powers and no action has been filed. When the private property owner initiates the lawsuit to recover damages in such a situation, it is termed an Inverse Condemnation action.
The governmental taking can be a physical taking (examples of which are water diversion, deprivation of access, noise, or pollution) or it can be a regulatory taking (governmental regulation making the property unsuitable by its owner for any reasonable or viable purpose).
The good news is that if a property owner is forced to file a lawsuit against a governmental agency to recover damages in an inverse condemnation case, the property owner can obtain, not only damages, but also attorney’s fees, expert witness fees and costs as the prevailing party.
Inverse Condemnation in North Carolina
A very common inverse condemnation scenario is where the Department of Transportation builds a road and fails to properly acquire the necessary drainage easements. Drainage issues can result from the road being elevated or the impervious surface causing water to accelerate or be diverted onto private property.
In most cases this would be the taking of a permanent water easement for which the owner should be compensated. There are time limitations regarding the rights of property owners to bring an action. Normally, in North Carolina, you have two years’ from the completion of a particular governmental project to recognize and file an inverse condemnation action.
Contact a Raleigh Attorney to Discuss Your Landowner Rights to Inverse Condemnation
Kirk, Kirk, Howell, Cutler and Thomas are your NC land condemnation attorneys when faced with an inverse condemnation case. For over 40 years, we have represented land condemnation cases all over North Carolina. Call 919-615-2473 or Contact us today for your free consultation.
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